Choosing a Primary School: Ofsted – What Does it Really Mean?


Ofsted Reports – What do they really mean?!

Goodness, I never thought the day would come when I’d have to start thinking about schools for b. I honestly don’t know where the last few years have gone and maternity feels like it was years ago. It was! It feels like yesterday that I woke on my birthday and discovered I was pregnant. Where has the time gone? So here we are, under a year now until b starts school and I need to figure out which three schools to pop down on his application form before January.

Outstanding vs. Good

Everyone goes on about Ofsted reports but what do they really mean? When b started Busy Bees they were rated “good”. Some nurseries we saw were rated “outstanding” but they just didn’t feel right for us :/ So what makes a good nursery or school good and an outstanding nursery/school outstanding?! And if the school is rated “satisfactory” does that mean it will actually be just fine because it is assessed all the time? And what about schools where the report was published years ago? What does that mean? Is the school still “good”?!

pros and cons of ofsted does it matter reports outstanding vs good primary schools

If you aren’t familiar with OFSTED, it means, “Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills” and it is a government department that inspects and regulates educational institutions. After the inspection, Ofsted write and publish a report. This report goes into detail about the school’s performance, observations from lessons, pupils’ work, the school website and views from staff, parents and children. The report makes judgements on a number of areas:

Achievements and standards
Development and wellbeing
Quality of teaching and learning
How the curriculum is taught
The care, guidance and support the school provides
How well the school is managed

On a Scale of…

All these judgements are then scored on a scale of 1 to 4:
1. outstanding
2. good
3. satisfactory
4. inadequate

Before b started nursery I had zero interest in Ofsted and reports but now that he is due to start school, I want to learn a bit more.

What does it all really mean?

Well, lucky for you, I’ve been doing a bit of research and this is what I’ve found during my late night internet sessions. If you are currently on the hunt for a school for your child then here are a few links which might help:

1. published a fab interview with a lead Ofsted inspector. For a sneak peak into the ins and outs of an inspection, take a read here.

“I can’t believe anyone would send their child to a school on the basis of just reading an Ofsted Inspection report. The school might have been inspected anything up to seven years ago and in that time there might have been a new head or any number of big changes.”

2. The School Run gives a handy guide to reading Ofsted reports and what to look out for.

“I think that you can tell a fair bit about a school these days from their homepage (it is, after all, what they want people to know about their school first). There you will probably find a statement about their ethos – read it. Is it what you think of as most important? School philosophies can vary enormously!”

3. Dad Info gives a nice overview of what Ofsted means in an article “Understanding Ofsted”.

“When consulting the Ofsted report for your local schools, don’t be tempted to take everything at face value and always go and visit the school for yourself.”

We’ve yet to begin our Primary school search for the little man but one thing is for sure, I won’t be basing my decisions purely on what Ofsted tell me. I’ve already spent a good deal of time looking through some of the websites of the schools I’m interested in and taking a read of their newsletters.

Are you currently searching for a school for your child? What is most important to you on your mission to find a good school? Don’t forget to pin this post for later!

pros and cons of ofsted does it matter reports outstanding vs good

Linked with #EatSleepBlogRetweet

Linked with KCACOLS


  1. choosing the right school isn\’t easy, but I truly just went with my gut! I was worried she may not get in as at my children\’s primary school they only accept 30 boys and 30 girls and previous siblings and staff\’s children get priority. I enrolled Aspen at 10 months, and hoped she would get in, thank goodness she did and now all 3 of my children go there and we all love it. For me it was about many factors. I asked myself would I trust these people with my daughter? Will I trust hey will acre for her and nurture her insecure nature? Then I looked at the way they handle discipline, their philosophy, and what were the schools stand out features. My daughter was very arty so I loved that they had a good arts program. I spoke to staff, I toured the school a couple of times. I also liked at how secure the school was. Then I trusted my gut, I get she would be loved there and I am so happy I haven\’t been let down. Good luck! Our parent radars are very strong so just listen to that inner voice. #eatsleepblogRT

    • you are right, I think our gut instinct can usually tell us a lot! I need to go and take a proper look at our local schools 🙂 thanks for reading and sharing your experience x

  2. As a teacher and former educational consultant I read this with interest. I agree do not go solely on a report which may very well be out of date. You must visit the school talk to the head! Get a feel for then place. Go and visit more than once and at different times of day! See what really happens. Look carefully at the quality of teaching! The importance of Having a good teacher is underestimated! Great read Thank you for linking up to #EatSleepBlogRT 🎉

    • thank you Catie. I agree re having a great teacher. you can have the best school but I think it does come down to individual teaching styles and simply if you happen to click and \”like\” that particular teacher. I remember my fave teachers who inspired me when I was at school 🙂 I\’ve been reading the newsletters as well and I think they give quite a bit of insight as to what the children get up to and the ins and outs of the school terms. thanks for commenting and sharing your experiences too x

  3. I am hating this at the moment, I find it all so stressful and confusing, but I am trying to go more with my gut than with reports. There is a school near us I was hesitant about because people told me their Ofsted report wasn\’t great, but then I looked on the website, read the prospectus and spoke to the receptionist on the phone to ask about open days. I was blown away by how lovely, friendly, open and true to our values the school seems, it is now probably our first choice! x #kcacols

  4. This is a really useful post. I definitely don\’t think Ofsted results are everything. We chose a \”good\” school but many of my friends were keen to send their children to an \”outstanding\” one. Often, the difference is a matter of who ticks all the boxes and does the most paperwork! Which doesn\’t necessarily mean it has the most nurturing outlook for the actual children. For me, I wanted the school near my house, truly part of my community, and not C of E because we\’d rather do our religious education in the home. #kcacols

  5. Really interesting as Mia starts school in Sept so we need to put her name down soon! I have worked in a school for most of my working life so I completely get that OFSTED reports are not the be all and end all of a school however like you say, some Outstanding may not feel right and its much more about what the school offers and how it feels for you as a family 🙂


  6. I wish I had read this before I did the mass school finding panic. I picked a school with a good Ofsted but my son had a terrible time there. We are looking at buying a house and the schools nearby are satisfactory/needs improvement and I panicked but then all the local parents think they are great. I think its important to do a couple of visits to the schools and get a feel for the environment and the staff. I think you just need to go with your guy. Thank you for linking to #KCACOLS I hope to see you next Sunday x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.